The Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) allows cats and dogs to leave and enter the U.K. without the need for quarantine, providing the animal is travelling from certain qualifying countries. As of the 1st January 2012, the following guidance will apply. Please note that the guidelines are continuously changing and therefore we always recommend you check on the DEFRA website before any travel.
Your pet must conform to all the conditions outlined below:
The alternative to meeting these entry requirements is 6 months compulsory quarantine.
Entry into the U.K. is only allowed via specific routes. These are continually being updated, but it is advisable to check your route well in advance of travelling. Ensure you know the terms and conditions under which the carrier will transport your pet. The number of places available for pets is often limited, especially when travelling by air, so ensure a reservation is available for the time and date that you wish to travel. You cannot bring a pet into the U.K. under the Pet Travel Scheme from a private boat or plane, please contact DEFRA for additional information.
Once your pet has a PETS EU Passport validated section V it is important to have the rabies vaccinations boosted within the time specified by the vaccine manufacturer.
An animal must be microchipped, and subsequent to that, vaccinated against rabies. An EU Passport will then be issued. They can leave the UK 21 days after the rabies vaccination.
Please consult DEFRA for the latest advice and requirements.
If you have any further queries please telephone:
PETS helpline: 0870 2411710
We hope this information will be useful, please remember it is your responsibility to ensure you have all the correct documentation for travelling in and out of the U.K. and to follow the guidelines set out by DEFRA and the relevant embassies of the qualifying countries.
In Britain today dogs can travel by air, road or sea. Each form of travel presents its own unique set of problems. In order to smooth the way it may be helpful to consider the following points:
An increasing number of dogs travel on internal flights today and although International Air Transport (IATA) regulations regarding carrier size and conditions do not apply to internal flights it is worthwhile considering these since they apply to all international flights. Remember with air travel the container will be your pet’s home for the length of the flight and also for an appreciable time prior to and after the flight after you have checked in and until he is collected after the flight.
1. The carrier should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around freely. The IATA recommendations are that the height should be the height of the dog to the top of the head in a normal standing position. The length should be the length of the dog from the nose to the root of the tail plus half the length measured from the floor to the elbow. This is in order to ensure that he can lie down with his nose resting on his forelegs and his front feet protruding beyond the tip of the nose. The width of the container should be twice the width of the dog measured at the shoulders.
2. The carrier can be constructed of fibreglass, metal, rigid plastic, wickerwork, weldmesh, solid wood or plywood.
3. Ventilation must be adequate and usually involves a wire mesh front on one side or end of the container with ventilation holes over the whole of the opposite side and the upper third of the other two sides. Projecting handles, which also act as spacers must be provided. These are essential for transportation of the crate and also ensure that airflow is maintained when the container is loaded into the aircraft, which may have a fairly full hold.
4. Containers must be nose and paw proof, i.e. the ventilation apertures must be of such a size that it is impossible for the animal to protrude nose or paws outside the container. Fixed food and water containers must be provided and these must be accessible from the outside.
On many internal flights (and some international ones) small dogs may be carried in the passenger cabin in underseat containers. Please consult the airline about weight restrictions.
It is useful to use several thicknesses of newspaper plus an acrylic dog bed of the VetBed type. A familiar article in the container helps to calm the animal.
Suitable carriers can be obtained from pet stores, breeders, kennels and often the airlines themselves. It is always worthwhile checking with the airline regarding their particular requirements.
Other useful tips
Tranquillisation of the dog before loading in the carrier is not recommended. Tranquillisers sometimes wear off in flight when it is impossible to either comfort the dog or to give any further medication. Therefore it is a good idea to try to familiarise your dog with the travel container before the trip is undertaken. Feeding him in the container, first with the door closed and then open helps to eliminate some of the apprehension that may be felt during the actual trip.
The Highway Code is very specific about animals in cars. They should be under control in vehicles and unable to distract you while you are driving. If you want your dog to be loose in the car he should be separated from you, and thus an estate vehicle or hatchback with a strong dog guard is ideal. Alternatively a crate or cage can be used, the dimensions of which should be comfortable for the animal. If the dog is not so separated from you he should be tethered so that he cannot act as a distraction. The easiest way of doing this is place him in the footwell in the back of the car, shutting the lead, attached to a properly adjusted collar, in the car door.
Travel, or more correctly motion sickness, is a condition which affects many dogs. It is due to the effect of the motion on the organs of balance in the inner ear. Signs are usually excessive salivation, restlessness or excitement. Consult your veterinary surgeon as there are prescription only medicines (POMS) that are extremely effective for this condition. Excitable dogs can be tranquillised, but make sure you experiment beforehand so you do not give too much and have the animal off his legs for a while since the dose depends largely on the temperament and amount of excitement.
Remember that even the most well behaved dog can take fright at the sight and noise associated with a railway station and trains. Make sure that the collar and lead are strong and correctly adjusted.
1. Today different railway companies have varying conditions regarding the transport of pets and therefore you should enquire prior to your trip.
2. When travelling on the London underground with your dog, remember it must be carried up and down escalators. If it is a large dog, seek other means of access to the platform. If travelling with you in the carriage, make sure your dog is well behaved and does not upset other passengers. If travelling unaccompanied in the guard’s van the dog should be in a transporter and the same recommendations as with air travel apply. Motion sickness can present problems. See recommendations under car travel.
Many ships and ferries today have permanent kennels into which your dog must be placed for the duration of the trip. Again the provision of a familiar blanket or toy helps to erase the tension. Mild tranquillisation is possible since you can visit the dog during the trip and ascertain its effect.
If you are going to stay in a hotel, ascertain beforehand that the hotel allows pets. There are publications available that list such hotels and boarding houses, e.g. Pets Welcome.
Make sure the dog wears a correctly adjusted collar and not a check chain. The collar should bear an identification tag with your name, address, telephone number and any other relevant details, e.g. where you are collecting him from and whether you wish to be telephoned first etc.
Remember that most hotels and boarding houses will not allow dogs in the public rooms, therefore if you leave him unattended in your room make sure there is no opportunity for escape and realise that you will be responsible for any damage caused. Again if practicable, i. e. size, a travelling cage or container is ideal. Even if the dog is extremely well behaved make sure that you place “Do not disturb” notices on the door if the dog is left unattended. In this way the possibility of confrontation with staff and escape is minimised.
Should your pet get lost, contact the local police, RSPCA, dog warden and veterinary surgeons.
Remember that advance planning is vital to make the trip an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog.
There are a number of significant diseases that occur outside of the UK which may cause serious illness in your pet. They are much easier to prevent effectively than they are to treat.
Ticks may transport other parasites such as Babesia. This may cause recurrent illness with severe anaemia and fever and can become fatal.
They may also carry bacteria that can cause Ehrlichiosis. This may cause intermittent fever, enlarged lymph nodes and bleeding and may be fatal, especially in German Shepherd Dogs. It is relatively common in Europe.
We recommend that a licensed tick control product be applied several days before leaving and then monthly thereafter. Alternatively, we can supply ‘scalibor’ collars for your dog to wear whilst abroad. We also recommend daily checks while abroad and removal of any ticks seen with a tick-removing hook.
Sandflies may transmit the protozoal parasite, which causes Leishmaniasis. This disease is chronic and may have an incubation period of months to years causing skin lesions and many immune mediated disease signs. It is common in Spain, Italy and the Balearics and occurs in all Mediterranean countries. Sandfly repellents should be used (available at the surgery). It is also advised to keep animals indoors from 7pm to 7am.
Mosquitoes can transmit the heartworm Dirofilaria. Infected mosquitoes transmit larvae onto the skin from where they move slowly through the body to the heart where adult worms may develop as large as 30cms long. They can cause heart failure. It is prevalent in peri-Mediterranean countries.
Treatment is dangerous as the worms are killed and may block the vessels in the heart. Prevention is very important. Mosquito control is advised (available at the surgery). Heartworm prevention products may be given as tablets or spot on products.
Please ensure your pet is well protected when you travel, as all of these diseases are very difficult to treat. It is also very important when you return to the UK that if your pet is ill you should advise the vet where and when your pet has travelled in case this is relevant to your pet’s condition.
If going to live abroad, we recommend that you seek local veterinary advice for the relevant preventative treatment for that area. Should you wish to discuss any of these issues in more detail, please consult your veterinary surgeon.